The thyroid gland is made up of two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe just under the voicebox. The lobes are joined by a small interconnecting mass of tissue. If for some reason the thyroid gland enlarges, it is known as “goiter”.
The thyroid is one of the endocrine glands, which secrete chemical compounds into the body. These compounds are known as hormones, internal secretions, or chemical messengers. The endocrine glands are also known as the ductless glands of the body because their secretions are put into the general circulation, rather than sent to a specific area.
There is considerable interplay among the endocrine glands. For example, the thyroid is stimulated to produce its hormone, thyroxine, by the pituitary gland. The thyroid, in turn, influences the reproductive glands and their hormone production, and also controls a portion of the adrenal glands.
There are two major control systems in the body, the nervous system and the endocrine system. There is interplay between these systems. The nervous system controls the glands of the endocrine system; in turn, the glands have an influence on nerve control of body functions.
When a thyroid involvement is suspected, the entire endocrine and nervous systems should be evaluated. One of the chief activities of the thyroid gland is to regulate the body’s metabolism. Metabolism means, basically, the rate at which the body builds up and tears down. In other words, it is the speed at which the body lives. When the thyroid is not functioning correctly, symptoms develop as result of metabolic change.
Hypothyroidism means that the thyroid is no longer functioning, as it should. The term “hypo” means “under” thus under thyroid. One of the major symptoms of hypothyroidism is fatigue. Fatigue is a generalized symptom that is present because of the many lowered activities resulting from thyroid hormone deficiency. Because of lowered metabolic activity, there is a tendency to gain weight, which does not correlate with an individual’s food intake or physical activity.
Protein is the major building block in tissue growth. Thyroxine, the hormone from the thyroid gland, increases protein use within the body. When there is a hypothyroid condition, protein is not deposited as effectively in the tissues. As a result, a child with a thyroid deficiency does not develop adequately. In the adult, tissue health suffers significantly because of hypothyroidism. All body tissues, with only a few exceptions, are involved.
There is a process in the body that breaks protein down into sugar for aid in sugar balance. This process is called “gluconeogenesis.” It does not work adequately in the presence of hypothyroidism. Thyroxine also influences the rate of sugar absorption from the gastrointestinal tract; consequently, it has some control over how much sugar is absorbed from the food eaten. Another effect of thyroxine on the body’s sugar utilization is its ability to increase the rate glucose is used by the cells. Anyone who has a sugar handling problem should have his/her thyroid evaluated because of its significant role in sugar absorption, utilization, and conversion of other factors to sugar.
The breakdown of fat to sugar is also influenced by thyroxine, which decreases the quantity of circulating fats in the blood and also the quantity of fats in the liver. Because of the role of thyroid gland secretions in the control of fat utilization, any individual with an elevated triglyceride level in his/her blood or a congested liver should have the thyroid gland evaluated.
Some of the body’s minerals are regulated by thyroxine. Of particular note is calcium. Thyroxine increases calcium removal by the kidneys. There is another hormone that comes from the thyroid and parathyroid glands, which has a bearing on the deposition of calcium in the bones. The parathyroid glands are four small glands located adjacent to the thyroid and are important for calcium absorption.
Symptoms indicating the need for thyroid evaluation are the following: extreme tiredness, sluggishness, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, and increased weight. There may be constant fatigue, constipation, mental fatigue, thin and slow growing hair, and scaliness of the skin and a frog like husky voice. Emotional symptoms may include going to pieces easily, crying, and dislike of working under pressure. There may be associated menstrual problems, a constant feeling of fullness, swelling, especially in the face, increased cholesterol levels, and brittle, easily broken fingernails. Hypothyroidism symptoms are widespread because the thyroid gland affects the metabolism of all body tissues.
Hyperthyroidism is overactivity of the thyroid gland and, consequently, too much thyroxine in the blood. “Hyper” means “over” thus over thyroid. The symptoms of this condition are exactly opposite those of hypothyroidism; the body’s metabolism is increased. Symptoms can be nervousness, inability to sleep, and increased heart and cardiac output. There may be thin skin, fine features, and poor balance when standing on one leg. The individual may have an increased appetite, decreased weight, and erratic, flighty behavior.
There are several methods for examining the thyroid. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Blood tests are commonly used. The general disadvantages of blood tests are the effect of different medications and nutritional supplements on the test results. The treatment factor used by the doctor, either to supplement or improve thyroid function, may render the test inappropriate while the patient is on that therapeutic regime. Consequently, dosage must be regulated by how the patient feels rather than by exactly determining the level of functions.
The basal metabolic rate test is an older test, rarely used today. It measures the amount of oxygen used by an individual. The test has been abandoned because of inherent inaccuracies.
Achilles tendon reflex test measures muscle contraction upon nerve stimulation. The speed of muscle action is inversely proportional to thyroid activity. This test measures body activity rather than body chemicals.
AppliedKinesiology has several ways of testing the thyroid by using muscle tests to evaluate different energy patterns within the body.
Natural or artificial thyroid hormone has been administered for many years as a supplemental therapy for thyroid activity. When the thyroid gland is unable to produce thyroxine, this therapy may be necessary. If the problem is hyperthyroidism and too much thyroxine, antithyroid drugs are used.
Using Applied Kinesiology is the best approach to return the thyroid to normal function by improving the body’s energy patterns and nutritional needs. This approach is best because of the normal body’s ability to regulate thyroxine up and down as needed. When medications are used for supplemental thyroid or anti – thyroid effects, there is no control to regulate the up and down levels necessary from hour to hour during a day. This interferes with the intricate interplay among the body’s glands, and the glands’ interplay with the nervous system.
Whatever treatment approach is used for thyroid function, it is important to have a periodic review to determine the effects of the treatment.